NASHVILLE, Tenn (Reuters) - When baby boomers listen to Bob Seger’s new release, “Ultimate Hits: Rock and Roll Never Forgets,” they may find themselves hearing the soundtrack of their lives.
Classic Seger tunes like “Night Moves,” “Old Time Rock and Roll,” “We’ve Got Tonight” and “Tryin’ to Live My Life Without You,” may trigger flashbacks because the hits received so much radio airplay in the 1970s and ‘80s.
Seger, 66, said he is flattered by his imprint on the collective pop rock memory, and he never tires of performing the old hits.
“I realized that my music was having an impact when I saw how much airplay we’ve been getting down through the years,” Seger told Reuters.
“I’ve been very fortunate in that regard. You get airplay when people request the songs,” he said. “When I first started out in the bars, back in 1962-1963, people wanted to hear ‘My Funny Valentine,’ they wanted to hear ‘Stardust,’ wanted to hear the classics. In a funny way, now ‘Against the Wind’ is a classic, and it’s very flattering to me.”
Seger’s new release, due out November 21, marks the first time all of his major hits have been packaged together. The two-CD collection features 26 tracks, including his most recent hit singles, “Downtown Train” and “Hey Hey Hey Hey (Going Back to Birmingham).”
The singer-songwriter is playing those hits in sold-out shows on his current cross-country tour.
After 50 years on the road, “I think I enjoy being with the people I play with,” he said. “I enjoy their company and I like the crew and band. We move through the country like an army.”
And the Detroit native said he does not get bored performing his 20- to 30-year-old hits over and over again.
“I still connect with those original emotions of ‘Beautiful Loser,’ which was inspired because I was a Leonard Cohen fan. Or ‘Night Moves,’ which was written in 1961 when I was in high school and is about what my friends and I were doing in that period of my life.”
The sentiments expressed in “Turn The Page” has made it a fan favorite and an anthem for other performers, he said.
“I had no idea that would happen,” Seger said with a laugh. “I thought it was a little folk song, kind of personal, and I loved the way (saxophonist) Alto (Reed) played horn on it. I loved that it was between major and minor (chords), kind of a grey tuning. I just enjoyed the song, but I had no idea it would turn out to be as big as it was.”
Seger’s thoughts have already turned to his next effort, for which he has written a few songs.
“I think I’m gonna write more after the first of the year until end of March. I am looking forward to that three-month period of pure writing,” he said.
“One (song) is called ‘Ride Out,’ and it might be the title song. It covers so many subjects I don’t know how to pick one; you’ll just have to hear it.
“Another one, ‘Wonderland,’ is very esoteric. I don’t know how to describe it, either. I’m trying to write stuff that’s different.
“I’m a big science fan and ‘Wonderland’ has some science in it,” he said, reciting the first few lines: “‘I’m living in a wonderland, floating on a sea bubble on a beach, waiting there for me.’ It’s talking about the multiverse, where we could live in a series of many universes.
“We’re living in a wonderland age of science right now, with recent discoveries indicating there might be water flowing on Mars and life underneath that ice. They recently watched through the Hubble (orbiting telescope) while a black hole ate a star. It’s pretty incredible.”
Seger has not changed his methods over the years, and appreciates when people tell him he writes for the average person on the street.
“I’ve been told that many times, absolutely, and I believe that you strive as a lyricist to say something that is universally true. If you can say that a couple times, or even once, in a song, then someone in the audience is going to identify with it, and that is my goal.”
Editing by Andrew Stern and Bob Tourtellotte